COALITION talks between the main opposition MDC-T party and the fledgling grouping of former Zanu PF stalwarts known as People First (PF), fronted by former Vice-President Joice Mujuru, are reportedly facing a stillbirth due to mistrust among the parties’ top officials.
MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai and Mujuru’s lieutenants have reportedly been holding informal negotiations to unite ahead of the 2018 elections, although the two politicians have not yet formally met.
“The issue of a coalition can only really begin to crystalise if Tsvangirai meets Mujuru, but the two have to some extent stayed away from each other for varying reasons.
“It tells you a lot, because given the public sympathy that Mujuru, in particular has, it would have been easier to rally their troops together,” an insider said.
The lack of trust, according to the sources, stemmed from “the history of People First” as an offshoot of Zanu PF and “the MDC-T’s leanings to the West, as well as reports that there was some engagement with Zanu PF”.
Both parties also seem to view each other as tainted in different ways, “but there is mutual respect” for Tsvangirai’s grassroots support and Mujuru’s liberation history viewed as a missing link to the opposition’s attempts to unseat Mugabe.
Former Presidential Affairs minister Didymus Mutasa, seen as a vital cog in the PF team, yesterday seemed to confirm the uneasiness between the two groups.
“We only hear that the MDCs are talking to Zanu PF and we are not party to that. We cannot trust people we have not talked to yet,” he said.
PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo said it was premature to talk about trust, although the overall understanding among the different opposition forces was to find common ground.
“I am not sure where the issue of trust comes in, because what has been happening are preliminary engagements. We have made contact with the MDC-T, Zapu, Mavambo/Kusile/Dawn and the PDP (People’s Democratic Party) and we are very clear that the time will come when we will need to converge and rescue Zimbabweans,” he said.
“The convergence will have to be around the core values and systems that should be shared across the board.”
Asked if Mujuru and Tsvangirai had met given reports that only low-level officials had so far sounded each other out, Gumbo was diplomatic.
“The people who meet do so with the blessings of the two leaders you have mentioned, but for now, each one of us will need to keep our identities,” he said.
MDC-T spokesperson Obert Gutu said “there is no reason to even talk about trust until such time PF is officially launched”.
“Of course, the MDC-T is always willing and able to coalesce with other political parties with whom we share the same vision, policies and ideology. Our main focus is on issues and not on personalities.
“Thus, whoever is peddling the lie that there are trust issues that have prevented the MDC-T from comparing notes with other opposition political parties, is obviously very ill-informed,” he said.
“We understand that People First is yet to formally launch. When they do so, of course, we have absolutely no qualms in engaging them as long as such an engagement is for the primary purpose of advancing peaceful and democratic change in Zimbabwe.”
However, Gutu said 2018 would be a different ball-game altogether for the ruling Zanu PF party.
“What we can assure the toiling masses of Zimbabwe is that 2018 is certainly going to be a game-changer on the local political landscape. After 2018, Zimbabwe will never be the same again.
“As and when it’s appropriate, the nation will be advised whether or not there is any engagement. For now, let’s just be a little bit patient. After all, patience is a virtue,” Gutu said. newsday